Category Archive: News

6th Avenue NW Greenway Project Proves “Yes We Can!”

By Melissa Riesland  

Photo Credit Catherine Anstett (2)

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

In November 2019, the first leg of the 6th Avenue Neighborhood Greenway gained funding via the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Your Voice Your Choice program. In 2020, 6th Avenue NW, between NW 43rd and NW 50th Streets, will become a designated right-of-way, with bicycle-friendly speed humps, stop signs at east/west-bound intersections, and 20 mph speed limit signs. People riding bikes can connect to the Burke Gilman Trail at NW 43rd Street.

This is a “Yes we can!!” story of neighbors coming together for a common cause. Back in 2016, residents of NW 49th Street noticed a lot of cut-through traffic that was creating a dangerous, uncontrolled intersection at 6th Avenue NW. Mapping software such as Google Maps and Waze had begun directing more traffic through the neighborhood.

Accident_6th-49th

Photo Julene Schmalz.

Car crashes were becoming common, and we were seeing a wide assortment of vehicles–including service trucks, semi-trucks, tour buses, tow trucks, and personal vehicles towing large boats–cutting through our neighborhood and speeding up our very steep hills (grades as high as 18% at NW Market Street).

Neighbors began searching for ways to discourage this cut-through traffic, and connected with each other in the process. We began hosting neighborhood block parties that closed down a section of the street for a few hours once a month from May through September, building neighborhood camaraderie while also blocking cut-through traffic. But by September of 2017, neighbor Julene Schmalz witnessed another near collision at 49th and 6th, and resolved to find a better solution before someone was either seriously injured or killed.

Kids Greenway

Example of a neighborhood greenway.

Julene researched online and spoke to Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). She learned about more ways to address the traffic problem, including play streets, painted intersections, and radar gun tracking. She also learned that the City at one time had wanted to designate 6th Avenue NW as a Neighborhood Greenwaya traffic-calmed street with low vehicle volumes and slow speeds that is prioritized for people walking and biking.

She also found the Department of Neighborhood’s Your Voice, Your Choice (YVYC) program, which awards $90K for small park and street improvements. She reached out to SDOT employees to meet and discuss the idea, and eventually received their support. It was too late for the 2018 YVYC grants, but Julene was not deterred–the delay also gave the neighborhood a year to build neighborhood support for the idea before the 2019 grant cycle. Julene put posters on telephone poles asking for neighborhood volunteers, and eventually amassed a list of 50 people.

SMALL.Rally_PreFunc

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

Volunteers participated in many different ways: we hosted street cleaning parties, weekly play streets, and block parties. One group wrote the YVYC grant application. Another obtained grant money from Groundswell NW. To communicate with the neighborhood, we set up a Facebook page for the project. We connected with the newly re-formed Ballard-Fremont Greenways neighborhood group, and partnered with Cascade Bicycle Club to host a celebration station on Bike Everywhere Day with donated raffle prizes and other goodies. We made “Keep Calm and Greenway On” T-shirts for the volunteers and other supporters.

SMALL.KickOffParty_jeremy

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

In the spring, we had a kickoff party at Jeremy Eaton’s EnERGETIC Studio. Photographer Cathrine Anstett donated her talents during events. Volunteer Sophie created artwork for our flyers, and volunteer children helped make posters. Gaylene Meyer created a video about the 6th Avenue NW Greenway project for her film-editing class. And neighborhood volunteers went door-to-door, educating neighbors about the project, answering questions, showing them how to vote.

Our hard work paid off. During the first round of YVYC project selection, 290 people agreed that our project was worthwhile. In September, for the final vote, we amassed 563 votes–the most for any project in District 6. We celebrated our victory with a night out with neighbors at Populuxe Brewery.

Construction will begin in 2020, and the planning for the next phase of the 6th Avenue NW Greenway is already underway (continuing north across Market to NW 58th St and West Woodland Elementary School) with the eventual goal of extending all the way to Holman Road in Crown Hill.

SMALL_DCA6232 b

Photo by Catherine Anstett.

Congratulations to the whole team!! Thanks to everyone for their hard work, and especially:

  • Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, for logistical and moral support
  • Mike Kelly, for his raffle prize donations and overall support
  • Groundswell NW, for grant money
  • JRA Bike Shop, Bike Works, and Cascade Bicycle Studio, for raffle prize donations
  • Jeremy Eaton, for opening his studio space, EnERGETIC Studio, for our kickoff meeting
  • Catherine Anstett, for her fabulous photography
  • Gaylene Meyer, for her documentary video

2019 Year in Review

2019 Year in Review

Just incredible. 2019 was truly the biggest year yet for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Thanks to everyone who made it possible, and here’s to even more progress in 2020!

Jump to what interests you most:

  • Big Picture Overview⁠—from director Gordon Padelford
  • Citywide Wins
  • Reports from the Neighborhoods – South
  • Reports from the Neighborhoods – Central
  • Reports from the Neighborhoods – North

     

    Please don’t forget to donate to keep us going!


    Big Picture Overview⁠—from director Gordon Padelford

    Thank you for being a part of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ people-powered movement. What an extraordinary year it’s been!

    Despite some early setbacks, we’ve won some hard-fought victories this year. I think we–advocates, allies, volunteers, and supporters alike–can rightly give ourselves a collective pat on the back.

    Step by step, we’re getting closer to that shared vision where Seattle’s streets unite neighborhoods and connect people to where they need to go. Where walking and biking are convenient, safe, comfortable, and even joyful. Where children are able to walk and bike to school and parks. Seniors are able to stay active and connected. Where our streets and transportation systems are truly accessible and welcoming, and reflect the needs of people of every age, language, ethnicity, gender, race, ability, and level of wealth.  

    At SNG, we know that achieving this vision will give us choices for how to get around, keep us safer, save us money, reduce climate pollution, and so much more!

    We’re making progress towards this vision thanks to our focus on collaborations and big structural changes. We have an amazing grassroots network of local groups all across the city and partnerships with a wide range of other organizations. Take our work with the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition. Together, we won big structural changes in 2019, including:

    * Funding for the first-ever Seattle School District position dedicated to helping kids walk and bike to school.

    * One of the best complete-streets policies in the country, making it harder for the city to cancel or delay planned bike projects when doing major roadwork.

    * Safer speed limits for busy streets citywide.

    We also know that for structural change to be successful we need to make our streets reflect the needs of all people. In 2019, we took another step along this journey, internally, by adopting a Racial Equity Action Plan and conducting trainings for staff and volunteers. Externally, we forged new relationships with partners like the Duwamish Tribe, to fight for a crosswalk to their longhouse and cultural center, and contracted with youth in South Park for door-to-door outreach to ensure the Georgetown-South Park Trail reflects the needs of Seattle’s largest Latinx community.

    And the good news is that we’re seeing some encouraging trends, like the 900% growth in the number of people biking on 2nd Ave since the bike lanes have been protected and extended to more neighborhoods. More importantly, we know we’re making a positive difference in people’s lives, which is what keeps me coming back to work everyday. For instance, we recently heard from a dad in North Seattle who told us that more kids are walking and biking to school year-round than ever. Perhaps you’re seeing some of these changes as well—please let us know if you are!

    Thank you for being a part of this people-powered movement. Your time, energy, and financial support has made a huge difference in 2019, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together next year!

     

    Gordon Padelford

    Executive Director

    Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

     
     

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    Citywide Wins

    Big Steps Towards Vision Zero

    After the worst year in a decade for deaths and serious injuries on our city streets, the Mayor announced a major effort towards Vision Zero, including lowered speed limits on all arterials, cracking down on enforcement of drivers that run red lights, and creating a Vision Zero Task Force to address the issue like the public health crisis that it is. These are huge steps forward, and we will continue to advocate to redesign our most dangerous streets, and to lower speed limits on state routes like Aurora Ave N and Lake City Way.

    Safe Places for People to Walk and Roll

    It’s unacceptable that one quarter of all streets in Seattle lack sidewalks. We advocated for and won an additional $11 million in funding for new sidewalks and accessibility improvements for arterials. Additionally, we advanced two Home Zone pilots–a holistic, community-focused, solution making it safer to walk on non-arterial streets without sidewalks for a fraction of the cost. We also won funding to continue this cost effective program in 2020.

    Safe Routes to School: New Staff for Public Schools

    We also have good news to report about keeping kids happy and healthy walking and biking to school. We took the time this year to build relationships at ten schools across Seattle to learn more about each school community’s needs and work to mobilize caring parents, teachers, and neighbors. We’re already seeing results: five new school zone speeding cameras will be installed in 2020, and for the first time, there will now be a Seattle School District employee dedicated to organizing crossing guards, walking school buses, bike trains, and safety projects.

    Additional Systemic Changes

    We’ve worked hard to combat the status quo through big systemic changes to our transportation system. By working with allied organizations such as MASS Coalition, we were able to pass a majority of the MASS Transportation Package, including new policies for construction and maintenance of our streets and intersections, and the structure of the Seattle Department of Transportation:

        1. Complete Streets

    Inspired by a Cambridge, Massachusetts ordinance, City Council passed an ordinance requiring that planned bike lanes are included in large repaving projects except in rare circumstances. This will save money and time for the City, and also make it significantly harder for political winds to delay or cancel planned bike routes.

        1. Sidewalks Maintenance

    This year, City Council required SDOT to develop a plan for addressing maintenance of our city’s sidewalks, including both removal of snow, ice, and vegetation and also a systemic, sustainable solution for fixing the 150,000 documented hazards on our sidewalks. These range from small cracks that people could trip on to places where the sidewalk is completely impassable, especially for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices. In collaboration with disability rights advocates at Rooted in Rights, we recommended that the City assess models like those used in Denver, with a built-in equity filter and progressive subsidy system so that the financial burden of improving mobility for all doesn’t fall on low-income property owners.

        1. Bike Path Maintenance

    Similarly, Seattle City Council also required SDOT to present a plan for the maintenance of existing bicycle infrastructure. Currently, maintenance is reactive and complaint-based, resulting in bike routes that are hard to use, unwelcoming, and sometimes erased by the passage of time. We’re also concerned that a complaint-based system leads to routes in wealthier or whiter neighborhoods being maintained more often than those in other parts of the city. We are pushing for a plan that standardizes maintenance so that the program relies less on complaints and all communities across the city can have safe and well-cared for bike infrastructure.

        1. Traffic Signal Policy

    We’re also advocating for a better traffic signals policy, so people don’t have to wait so long to cross the street, don’t have to push “beg buttons,” and other tweaks that will make it safer and more convenient for people to cross the street. This year, SDOT began implementing “head starts” for people walking at every intersection, which give pedestrians the green light a few seconds before vehicles. In 2020, SDOT will present the rest of their policy to prioritize people walking.

        1. Funding for SDOT’s Transportation Equity Program

    As a part of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative, SDOT created a Transportation Equity Program, and this year, assembled a workgroup to identify and address systemic and structural equity issues. Given that race and racism still play a huge role in determining a person’s ability to get where they need to go in Seattle, we successfully advocated for the funding needed to continue this program and ensure that the workgroup has staff and resources needed to continue this important work and implement solutions department-wide.

     
     

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    Reports from the Neighborhoods – South

  • SE Seattle Bike Connections

  • Built this year: Two East-West protected bike lane routes in SE Seattle (S Columbian Way and S Othello St), connecting people to light rail stations and other community destinations; and a North-South protected bike lane along Wilson Ave.

    Coming soon: Southeast Seattle currently does not have a single safe and convenient connection for people riding bikes to the rest of Seattle. We advocated for, and won, $10.35 million dollars that will go towards building the Georgetown to South Park Trail, the Beacon Ave Trail, or a Martin Luther King Jr. Way South protected bike lane–or partially constructing some combination of all three! There is still more work to be done to fully bridge the $32 million gap for bike projects that were included in the 2019 Bicycle Implementation Plan (released earlier this year without allocated funding), but this is a huge step forward.

  • A Safe Crossing to the Duwamish Longhouse

  • We advocated with the Duwamish Tribe for a safe crossing of West Marginal Way SW between the Duwamish Longhouse on one side of the street and Herring House Park, parking lots, and the Duwamish Trail on the other. Tour groups and school field trips are unwilling to risk the danger, which limits the Tribe’s economic and engagement opportunities. Together with local SNG groups West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets, and other partners, we were able to secure funding to design the crossing, which includes train tracks and multiple lanes of busy freight traffic. The advocacy work continues in order to ensure that the route is actually constructed and people can safely access this important cultural and community center.

  • A Community Effort for the Georgetown to South Park Trail

  • Neighbors from Georgetown and South Park made significant strides this year towards the long-awaited Georgetown-South Park Trail. After extensive community-led outreach through in-person and online surveys, and outreach at events in English and Spanish, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets announced SDOT’s proposed routing at a community celebration and installed wayfinding signs along the future route. The project secured funding from two different sources and will be constructed in 2021-2022.

  • Pedestrian Safety for Rainier

  • Thanks in part to years worth of community outreach and advocacy by SNG’s local group, Rainier Valley Greenways, safety improvements were made to a number of intersections along Rainier Ave S — including built curb bulbs and a raised crosswalk at Graham & Rainier, a built curb bulb and rebuilt sidewalk at Holly & Rainier, and new bus lanes along Rainier. See more details about the planned improvements along Rainier Ave. In January, look for a transportation and racial equity presentation by Rainier Valley Greenways at the annual MLK Day celebration at Garfield High School.

  • Safe Routes to Transit

  • Thanks to your grassroots advocacy, Sound Transit will be (partially) funding better walking and biking access to light rail stations in Southeast Seattle. It is part of a larger slate of improvements to the whole Sound Transit system, and will be a huge advancement for safe and convenient access to transit.

     
     
     

  • South Park Home Zone

  • The Home Zone Pilot had a successful first year! Home Zones are an idea brought to Seattle by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to build cost-effective, community-based solutions for neighborhoods without safe places to walk. We brought South Park residents together to collaboratively plan and design their pilot Home Zone. Planning activities included a BBQ meet-up at Marra Farm, a walking tour of the proposed improvements, a focus group meet-up at Concord International Elementary, and lot of door-to-door outreach. In early 2020, the community will hold a hands-on workshop to build planter boxes, celebrate the new speed humps, and review designs for further street safety improvements. Read more about Seattle’s Home Zone Program in Next City.

     
     
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    Reports from the Neighborhoods – Central

  • Three Huge Connections for the Basic Bike Network

  • The 2nd Ave bike lane now connects to South Lake Union in the north (via 9th Ave to the Westlake Trail), to Capitol Hill in the east (via Pike St to the Broadway protected bike lanes), and to the International District in the south (via 5th Ave and Main St to the King St neighborhood greenway and Dearborn protected bike lanes)! These connections have encouraged <a href="http://Text: The 2nd Ave bike lane now connects to South Lake Union in the north (via 9th Ave to the Westlake Trail), to Capitol Hill in the east (via Pike St to the Broadway protected bike lanes), and to the International District in the south (via 5th Ave and Main St to the King St neighborhood greenway and Dearborn protected bike lanes)! These connections have encouraged 1,700 more people to bike on 2nd Ave every day.”>1,700 more people to bike on 2nd Ave every day.

     

  • Connecting to the Seattle Center on Thomas St

  • Everyone should be able to get safely and conveniently to the Seattle Center and the new arena that is opening in 2021, but right now there is no family-friendly east-west route. That’s why we are so excited that we won funding and a new design for Thomas St that will include a safe crossing of Aurora Ave, a new plaza, and a thirty-two feet wide walking and biking path. This win was made possible thanks to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s incredible leadership for this project, and support from the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Uptown Alliance, and many others.

  • A Community Comes Together at Bailey-Gatzert Elementary

  • This year, Central Seattle Greenways collaborated with parents, administrators, neighborhood allies, and community organizations to help get kids safely to school at Bailey-Gatzert Elementary. The school sits at the intersection of three major arterial streets, a location so dangerous that crossing guards have been hit by speeding vehicles here, but kids were also facing pressure from gang recruiters. Community-identified solutions include infrastructure improvement recommendations, walking school buses, and more.

  • Queen Anne Greenways’ Annual Play Streets

  • This summer, Queen Anne Greenways once again filled the streets with community fun at two annual Playstreets. The group closed a block of 1st Ave West adjacent to the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market to cars and opened it up for family fun and community building. Relatedly, SDOT is working to encourage more people centered street events through their revamped People Streets Program.

     
     
     
     

  • Sidewalk Cafes for Seattle

  • In 2019, the city made it easier for small businesses to create sidewalk-cafe style seating while maintaining access for people walking and rolling. Now there are over 400 permitted sidewalk cafes, many in central Seattle, which help to enliven our streets as places for people!

     
     
     
     

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    Reports from the Neighborhoods – North

  • Broadview Home Zone

  • The Home Zone Pilot had a successful first year! Home Zones are an idea brought to Seattle by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to build cost-effective, community-based solutions for neighborhoods without safe places to walk. We brought Broadview residents together to collaboratively plan and design their pilot Home Zone. The neighborhood celebrated this fall with a kickoff event, featuring speed humps, planter boxes and signage. Construction is still underway, and will be completed in 2020. Catch this write-up about Seattle’s Home Zone Program in <a href="http://The Home Zone Pilot had a successful first year! Home Zones are an idea brought to Seattle by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways to build cost-effective, community-based solutions for neighborhoods without safe places to walk. We brought Broadview residents together to collaboratively plan and design their pilot Home Zone. The neighborhood celebrated this fall with a kickoff event, featuring speed humps, planter boxes and signage. Construction is still underway, and will be completed in 2020. Catch this write-up about Seattle’s Home Zone Program in Next City.

     

  • Access to Future Light Rail Stations

  • 2019 saw the construction of protected bike lanes along NE 65th St and a new neighborhood greenway along N 100th St connecting to the future light rail stations in the Roosevelt and Northgate neighborhoods!

     
     
     
     
     

  • Record Broken for Fremont Bridge Bike Route

  • Investments in bike infrastructure are working! The Fremont Bridge bike counter hit the one million mark a whole month earlier than last year. Total 2019 counts are up 12% over last year, and counts for Nov 2019 (after completion of connecting routes downtown) were a full 20% higher than the previous all-time record. Neighbors from Queen Anne Greenways, Ballard-Fremont Greenways, and Cascade Bicycle Club came together to hand out snacks and goodies, thanking people as they rode their bikes past.

     

  • A Neighborhood Greenway for 6th Ave NW

  • A team of neighbors in Ballard came together to address cut-through traffic and speeding in their neighborhood. After extensive community outreach and organizing, SDOT will construct a neighborhood greenway on 6th Ave (NW 43rd to NW 50th St). The neighbors will continue to push for the next section next year, to NW 58th St, West Woodland Elementary, and beyond. Read more on this inspiring community effort.

     
     
     

  • Safe Routes to Whitman Middle School

  • Whitman Middle School students now have a safe and accessible way to cross busy Holman Road. This crossing was the passion project of Ballard-Fremont Greenways member Selena Carsiotis.

    You made it to the end! Thanks for reading. If you love the work we’re doing all across Seattle, please consider a gift of support today.

     
     
     

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Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Join us and send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and ask them act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

Act Now! button

memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

AuroraAvenueFastTraffic

3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Care about ending traffic violence? Here are three ways you can help keep everyone safe on our streets:

1) If or when you drive, maintain a safe speed (i.e., below the speed limit and suitable for conditions), and be alert for people walking and biking.  

2) Send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and reinforcing the need for safer speed limits, redesigning our most dangerous streets, and getting Vision Zero back on track.

3) Get involved in advocating for traffic safety in your neighborhood

Act Now! button

Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

4 Ways Neighbors Reclaimed Their Streets This Year

Franklin High School Students Engage with Neighborhood Plan in Mt. Baker

franklin mural

We worked with our partners at the Mt Baker Hub and created a well attended workshop for Franklin High School students to dig into Accessible Mt Baker and get engaged in envisioning the future of their neighborhood. This is part of a community driven effort to create a neighborhood that is sustainable, affordable, diverse, and thriving.We also financially supported students to participate in the creation four new murals (one is pictured above) by the light rail station celebrating the community and welcoming people to the neighborhood.

You can have your say about what transportation projects should be a priority in the neighborhood through SDOT’s online survey about the Accessible Mt Baker project.

 

Queen Anne Greenways Play Streets Are Seattle’s Largest

2019 queen anne play street

This summer, Queen Anne Greenways once again filled the streets with community fun at two annual Playstreets. The group closed a block of 1st Ave West adjacent to the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market to cars and opened it up for family fun and community building.

SDOT is working to encourage more people centered street events through their revamped People Streets Program.

Home Zone Work Party and Kickoff Celebration

Three people stand smiling while assembling a planter and holding a Home Zone sign.IMG_E8799

Neighbors gathered in Broadview for a work party and kick-off celebration of their new Home Zone! They got their hands dirty planting and putting out home made barriers made out of reused blue food barrels and zip tying signage marking the entrances to the Home Zone. SDOT has already installed speed humps in the neighborhood as part of the project with more improvements coming. The other 2020 Home Zone is located in South Park near Concord International Elementary School.

Read more about Home Zones, which are are a cost effective tool to make neighborhoods without sidewalks more walkable — it is a concept Seattle Neighborhood Greenways brought to Seattle in 2018. 

Claim the Lane for Climate

Following in the footsteps of a viral urbanism movement to usher private vehicles out of designated bus lanes, activists from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and 350 Seattle teamed up to #ClaimTheLaneForClimate. The group bike ride on 4th Ave through downtown followed by afternoon rush hour clearing of bus lane on Olive Way emphasized the climate impacts of a transportation system that prioritizes private car travel over more sustainable modes like transit and biking. And the activism paid off! In October, SDOT began painting red bus lanes, removing ambiguity and confusion.

 

These four stories are just a sampling of all the exciting things happening around Seattle. Thanks for caring and getting involved in your neighborhood!

8 BIG WINS for walking/rolling/biking and equity in the 2020 Seattle City Budget!

Because of supporters like you, we won eight huge wins for walking/rolling/biking and equity this year! Thank you to everyone who sent in emails and gave public comments, our allies at the MASS Coalition, and to the Mayor and City Council for their support in making our transportation budget represent our city’s values and stated goals. These changes are all one-time increases, but we will be back next year to continue to fight for needed funding.

Without further ado, here are the eight big wins:

african american biking on 2nd ave SDOT photo
1) Biking Routes: $10.35 million increase

Southeast Seattle currently does not have a single safe and convenient connection for people riding bikes to the rest of Seattle. This funding will change that, by building the Georgetown to South Park Trail, the Beacon Ave Trail, or a Martin Luther King Jr. Way South protected bike lane, or partially constructing some combination of all three! There is still more work to be done to fully bridge the $32 million gap for bike projects that were included in the 2019 Bicycle Implementation Plan (released earlier this year without allocated funding), but this is a huge step forward.

Walking

2)  Walking Routes: $11 million increase 

Walking and rolling is a fundamental right — but right now many people are unable to get around safely and conveniently in Seattle because of inaccessible or nonexistent sidewalks. The city’s budget added $4 million for sidewalk construction and $7 million for accessibility improvements like curb ramps. This is an improvement, but we also recognize that it is a drop in the bucket the 26% of Seattle streets that don’t currently have safe places to walk, and the need for a long-term, sustainable source of funding remains.

A rendering of Thomas St showing wide pedestrian spaces and trees.

3) Connecting to Seattle Center: $3.76 million increase

Everyone should be able to get safely and conveniently to the Seattle Center and the new arena that is opening in 2021, but right now there is no family-friendly east-west route. This funding will allow for design and partial construction of a vibrant, people-focused space on Thomas Street. This win was made possible thanks to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s incredible leadership for this project, and support from the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Uptown Alliance, and and many others. Next year the project will undergo additional design and outreach with construction anticipated for 2021.

A group of small kids walking with adult supervision wait at a crosswalk.

4. Safe Routes to School: New staff for Seattle Public Schools

Every child should be able to walk and bike to school safely, but currently there is not a single full time employee at the Seattle Public Schools in charge of making sure that happens. As a result dozens of schools lack crossing guards, and other traffic safety programs are run exclusively by volunteers (creating an equity disparity). Now thanks to the Seattle City Council there will be a full-time Active Transportation Coordinator to help the thousands of Seattle public school children who walk and bike to school arrive safely. Thank you to the School Traffic Safety Committee for their identification of this solution and continued advocacy and to Councilmember Mike O’Brien for the addition.

A graphic of hands reaching together in a circle.

Graphic Credit: Seattle Department of Transportation

5. Transportation Equity Program: $300,000 increase

Unfortunately, race and racism play a huge role in determining a person’s ability to get where they need to go in Seattle. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways strives to redress the historical and systemically-rooted inequities in transportation and city investments (for more see our our Racial Equity Action Plan released this year). This funding will allow continuation of the Transportation Equity Program, helping to identify and address systemic and structural equity issues. 

Duwamish Tribe City Council Budget Hearing 10.22.2019 Public Comment

6. Duwamish Longhouse crossing: $500,000

Right now, people cross 5 lanes with a 40 mph posted speed limit on a major truck route to get between the Duwamish Longhouse on one side of the street and Herring House Park, parking lots, and the Duwamish Trail on the other. Tour groups and school field trips are unwilling to risk the danger, which limits the Tribe’s economic and engagement opportunities. This funding will cover design (but not full construction costs) and is a step towards helping people safely access this important cultural and community center. Thanks to the Duwamish Tribe for leading this effort, West Seattle Bike Connections and Duwamish Valley Safe Streets for their continued advocacy, and Councilmember Lisa Herbold for this budget addition.

 

Three people smiling next to a planter box, holding a sign that says "Home Zone"

7. Home Zones: $350,000

There is a 1,800 year backlog to build sidewalks across Seattle. Home Zones are a cost effective tool to make neighborhoods without sidewalks more walkable. This funding will allow continuation of the Home Zone concept that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways brought to Seattle in 2018.

west-seattle-admiral-way-bike-lanes

8. Bike path maintenance 

Seattle city council has required the Seattle Department of Transportation to present a plan on the maintenance of existing bicycle infrastructure. Currently, maintenance is reactive and complaint-based, resulting in bike routes that are hard to use, unwelcoming, and sometimes even obsolete or absent. Additionally, routes in wealthier or whiter neighborhoods are often maintained better than those in other parts of the city. When SDOT presents their draft plan, we will push for it to standardize maintenance so that the program relies less on complaints and all communities across the city can have safe and well-cared for bike infrastructure.

A woman wearing a bike helmet stands at a microphone in front of a crowd of people holding signs, some with mobility aids.

What didn’t make it and what’s next?

We also had a few disappointments: We fought hard to increase funding for Safe Routes to School and to improve Seattle’s Complete Streets evaluation practices (Level of Service metrics), neither of which made it into the final balanced budget. We’re not giving up on these two campaigns, and will continue to push in 2020.

Please take a moment to send a Thank You to the Mayor and City Council for their support of these 2020 budget improvements by emailing jenny.durkan@seattle.gov and council@seattle.gov.

Appreciate our advocacy to make our city a better place to walk, bike and live? Please donate today to keep us fighting tomorrow. Thank you. 

A huge crowd of people stand outside City Hall at the Ride 4 Safe Streets.

Photo Credit: @4SafeStreets

Vision Zero Update Part 1: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Seattle’s current progress on our Vision Zero goals. Vision Zero is Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Yesterday, Sunday, November 17, 2019, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as an inevitable byproduct of vehicular travel, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A montage of memorials left on the street where people were killed showing crosses, flowers, white cutout silhouettes, and white bicycles.

Memorials commemorating people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

Here in Seattle, we’re taking this opportunity to do a reality check on pedestrian safety on Seattle’s streets. And it’s not looking good.

Despite Seattle’s commitment to Vision Zero — the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 — we are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis. In the first 10 months of 2019 (January 1 – October 31), crashes on Seattle roads caused 18 fatalities and 118 serious injuries.

A large group of people gather on a sidewalk holding crosses and flowers at a memorial for Maria Banda.

Memorial gathering for Maria Banda.

Of those killed and seriously injured, there were 12 pedestrians and bicyclists killed and 70 serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. I’ll say that again: A total of 82 fatalities or serious injuries to the most vulnerable users on our streets in the first ten months of this year, when our goal is zero. The breakdown, for those curious, is 63 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists. Note that this is preliminary data, and may not be a full count, and that we still have a month and a half before the year’s end.

These statistics have real human impacts.

And we know that victims of traffic violence are disproportionately elders, people of color, and those of us with disabilities, low incomes or currently experiencing homelessness.

Vedrana Durakovic had this to say after Maria Lourdes Banda, a Latina elder, was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Lake City Way this fall:

“Maria Banda’s passing [after the hit and run on September 30, 2019] has been felt deeply in the community and among her family and friends. Maria was beloved by all of those who knew her, and her passing has left a gaping hole in the community. Her presence was one of calmness and kindness, and those who were fortunate to have interacted with and known Maria, particularly her husband Agustín, are heartbroken over the loss. Maria’s granddaughter also expressed her grief over the loss of her grandmother, noting that “She was always someone who remembered everyone.” 

“At the same time, the community has also been grappling with feelings of anger and frustration, not comprehending how anyone could leave two people so precious to us on the road, and drive off. And it wasn’t until we contacted Councilmember Debora Juarez did we hear that a police detective was finally assigned to the case on 10/9, as the police had not been aware that the hit and run had resulted in a fatality. Concurrently, [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT had no knowledge up until that point that a fatality had occurred in the very spot the community had been asking for a crosswalk for years. 

“The community continues to feel Maria’s absence daily, seeking ways to commemorate her life and find comfort within the community which has demonstrated its strength, unity, and love.”

Jesse Gurnett's mother stands on the side of the street holding a photo of her son after he was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street.

Jesse Gurnett’s mother holding a photo of her son on the street where he was hit by a car and killed.

Our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. Remember that individual people making individual decisions designed our city to be this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently. And that these decisions have real impacts: four of the twelve fatalities took place in District 5, Seattle’s far north, which is notoriously devoid of sidewalks or safe places to walk, even along major transit routes and arterial streets.

A woman with three kids push a stroller along a street surrounded by cars. There is no sidewalk and they walk between a ditch and moving traffic.

The map below highlights the 100 intersections in Seattle with the highest number of collisions (2006-present). Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave, averages a collision every day, and is clearly highlighted.

Map of the top 100 locations in Seattle with the most traffic collisions.

Click here to view interactive version of this map.

What Next?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways volunteers are working every day on projects across the city to make it safer for people to walk and bike in Seattle. Sometimes this looks like new sidewalks, crosswalks, or other safe places for people to walk. Sometimes it looks like safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities. Sometimes it looks like major policy shifts in the way our city evaluates our streets, or maintains our existing infrastructure. Our city is currently built for cars, but we can change that.

Read Part 2, where we’ll lay out our ideas for the City to get Vision Zero back on track!

 

Special Thanks to volunteers Lee Bruch and Tim Ganter for tracking and visualizing data and holding the City accountable to Vision Zero goals.

Back to School!

It’s Back to School season! How are the kids in your life getting to and from school?

Did you know that 58% of students in the Seattle Public Schools District live within the school walk zone and are not served by school bus routes, yet only 30% of them walk and bike?

Particularly in schools with dangerous streets nearby, many parents who have the means to do so make the decision to drive their kids to school every day. The increase in vehicle traffic around the school leaves those kids who do not have the option, disproportionately low-income kids and people of color, in even more dangerous conditions.

Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we believe that every child deserves to be able to walk or bike to school safely and comfortably. 

If that’s your take too, we invite you to join our Safe Routes to School campaign! Click here to send a note to your elected leaders in support of Safe Routes to School, and keep updated on the citywide campaign!

AdjaAndDaughters

This year, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is working to address some systemic problems with both the Seattle Public Schools District and the Seattle Dept. of Transportation, including policies and processes in school planning, lack of communication, insufficient staff, and lack of funding.

We’re also building relationships with 10 focus schools: Bailey Gatzert Elem., John Rogers Elem., Lafayette Elem., Sacajawea Elem., West Woodland Elem., Wing Luke Elem., Mercer International Middle, Franklin High, Rainier Beach High, and Roosevelt High. We’re listening to school communities and learning what’s needed, what’s working and what isn’t. If you’d like to hear more or get involved in engagement with one of these school communities, email Clara@SeattleGreenways.org.

Speak up for Sidewalks and Schoolkids!

Thanks to your ongoing advocacy, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a part, included Safe Routes to School funding in the MASS Transportation Package. If it passes through City Council, we will have funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator to manage several currently ignored programs and processes, including the walking and biking school bus program and the School Crossing Guard program, which currently has vacant positions at one in three schools.

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We Need You!

  • Sign up here to receive updates on the campaign.
  • Share information with families and community members at your children’s school. Check out this one-pager.
  • Support funding for Safe Routes to School in the City of Seattle budget by sending an email to the Seattle City CouncilUse this form to support the MASS Coalition asks, or draft your own email to council@seattle.gov.
  • Send an email to your School Board Director highlighting transportation as an issue and Safe Routes to School as a solution. Find your director here. Several of the School Board Directors are up for re-election this fall — email candidates and attend forums to make sure that candidates know that you care about making sure kids are safe when walking and biking to school.
  • Spread the word about vacant School Crossing Guard positions in your neighborhood. These positions are paid, neighborhood-based, green jobs, perfect for those seeking local, part-time work.

KidsGroupWalking

Thank you for your advocacy!

Be well,
Clara

claraClara Cantor

she/her/hers
(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Fun and Safe Ways to Walk or Bike to School!

Are you looking to encourage your child and their friends to walk or bike to school this school year (and beyond)? Consider organizing a walking school bus or a bike train!

 

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A walking school bus — what is that?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school together with one or more adults, or older students. It can be structured in many ways, but is most commonly a route with designated meeting points and a schedule of parents or volunteers who take turns walking the group to school.

What’s a bike train?

Similarly, a bike train is a group of children who bike to school together, accompanied or led by one or more adults, or older students. Bike train leaders should have some bicycling skills, understand traffic laws and feel comfortable riding on the road.

What are the benefits of a walking school bus and a bike train?

Studies show that fewer children walk to school today than even just a few decades ago, and many children don’t meet recommended daily levels of physical activity. For many parents, safety concerns are one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk or bike to school.

The walking school bus and bike train models are safety-first, by design. But they’re also fun, social, and active ⁠— providing school age children with easy, comfortable access to a healthy lifestyle, as well as improved skills for walking and pedaling safely in the city. Parents benefit too ⁠— they get to enjoy greater piece of mind knowing that their children are being protected by ‘safety in numbers’ as well as the presence of adult supervision.

There’s a terrific community-building aspect to these models as well. With a rotating schedule of parents or volunteers coordinating together to lead the walking school bus or bike train, it can be a great opportunity for people to meet other families in their neighborhood.

Did we emphasize “fun” enough? A walking school bus or bike train is a delightful daily activity ⁠— for both the kids and adults involved. Give it a try! And share your experience with us ⁠— contact Clara with your walking or biking to school stories: clara@seattlegreenways.org

 

Kids Crossing

 

Tips for organizing a walking school bus:

  • Check out your neighborhood walkability checklist, and the City of Seattle’s Safe Routes to School Walking Maps. Determine the safest route to walk to your school and map your route, including what stops are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to walk, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, other community leaders).
  • Test your route, noting approximate walking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise walkers and draft a rotating schedule. Download walking school bus leader schedules and information forms, and recruit volunteers.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine what’s needed for both kids and adult volunteers on your route before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

 

Tips for organizing a bike train:

  • Determine safe routes for biking to school with a City of Seattle Bike Web Map, and draft a potential route, including the stops that are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to bike, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, local bike shops, bike teams/clubs, other community leaders).
  • Pick a route and do a test bike ride, noting approximate biking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise bikers and draft a rotating schedule. Check out these scheduling tips for bike train leaders and other guides.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine the safety training, skills and equipment needed for kids and bike train leaders before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

 

Happy walking and biking!

Li Tan Portrait

Written by Li Tan,
Safe Routes to School Intern
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Big Wins This Month in City Council for the MASS Coalition! Next Steps 9/30

MASS SNG

BIG WINS!

Thanks to your advocacy, the first three pieces of the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Transportation Package passed UNANIMOUSLY through City Council!

We have the energy and momentum to pass the remainder of the package by the end of the year — Save the Date for our next big push on Monday, September 30, 2:00pm for several important policy improvements for people walking and rolling. This second set of policies sailed through committee on September 20th, and will come to a full City Council vote on the 30th!

Champions:

Huge thanks to Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Abel Pacheco, and Teresa Mosqueda for sponsoring these three critical pieces of the MASS Transportation Package, and to the rest of the council for voting to pass them! Thank them at:  Council@Seattle.gov (email) or @SeattleCouncil (Twitter)

What passed:

  1. A Bicycle Safety Ordinance making it harder for politicians to delay or delete bike projects.
  2. A resolution requesting full funding for Bicycle Implementation Plan projects, including the Beacon Ave Trail, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail, the SODO-to-Georgetown connection, and two-way bike lanes on 4th Ave downtown.
  3. A resolution requesting that SDOT build off-sidewalk bike and scooter parking (in-street bike corrals) to ensure pedestrian access on sidewalks, especially for those of us with disabilities.

We’re not done yet.

We packed the council chambers and sent hundreds of emails, and together we showed the strength of community support behind sustainable transportation measures. Then, following the Climate Strike on September 20th, we filled council chambers again and spoke out passionately for safer sidewalks and pedestrian-first signal-timing. This second set of MASS Transportation Package policies were approved in committee. And now they move to a full council vote.

We need you on Monday, September 30, at 2:00pm as these important pedestrian policy improvements move to a full council vote. It’s people-power — your voice, your presence, your mailed in comments, that can move these policies over the finish line. 

Email the Mayor and Councilmembers now to show your support.

 

The MASS Transportation Package – Safe & Equitable Transportation for All

These are the first of twelve total pieces of the MASS Transportation Package — which includes policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that will help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently. Find out more about the package in this interview.

We need to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, create walkable and roll-able communities, and ensure safe and equitable access to transportation for all people, particularly for those who have been historically and are currently under-served. Please support the MASS Transportation Package.

Take Action:

 

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her/hers

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara Gordon Susan interview pic

Susan Gleason, SNG’s Communications & Development Director recently sat down with Gordon Padelford and Clara Cantor  to learn more about the MASS Transportation Package they’ve been working on.

 

Susan: Fill me in. What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Gordon: It’s a really exciting package of policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that we are working with our allies to pass before the end of the year.  

 

Susan: So, what’s in it specifically?

Clara: Hah, a lot! For biking there are three pieces. First, as people may remember, the mayor’s latest bike plan leaves many critical bike routes connecting SE Seattle and SODO unfunded. This package calls for finding new, non-regressive sources of revenue, such as a tax on Lyft and Uber rides, to build those routes. 

The second piece was inspired by a Cambridge, Massachusetts ordinance which requires repaving projects to include any planned bike lanes except in rare circumstances. It will also require SDOT to present more holistic information to the public during outreach processes, rather than just how different street designs might slow down drivers — which in our experience has led to some bad decisions. So, moving forward we hope this will give everyone better information to work with. 

Third, it will require SDOT to get its act together around bike route maintenance. We know a lot of SNG volunteers have noticed bike lanes disappearing if lanes are not repainted at the same time as the car lanes are getting repainted, or if protected bike lane posts get hit by vehicles. That’s a policy failure. 

 

Susan: Is there a piece in there about bike and scooter parking, as well?

Clara: Yes, we’ve been working with Lime, disability rights advocates, and Councilmember Abel Pacheco to come up with a bike and scooter parking solution that works better for everyone. You might have seen the op-ed in the Seattle Times about that. Basically, we are proposing that the city build thousands of new bike and scooter parking spaces on the street, near street corners where car parking isn’t permitted. This will keep our sidewalks clear, give people more places to park, and also improve sightlines for people crossing the street. It’s a win-win-win.

 

Susan: What’s in there for better walkability?

Gordon: There are four components for pedestrians. The first one calls on the city to find additional funding to build sidewalks and safe places to walk like Home Zones, so that people don’t have to wait multiple centuries to be able to safely walk to the bus stop, the store, etc.  

But even when sidewalks are built we have to recognize that they aren’t always accessible, and in fact, the city has found something like 150,000 sidewalk hazards — ranging from cracks that people could trip on to overgrown vegetation. We’ve seen other cities, like Denver, approach this accessibility issue in a much more comprehensive way, so we’re asking the city to improve their program. 

We’re also advocating for a better traffic signals policy, so people don’t have to wait so long to cross the street, don’t have to push “beg buttons,” and other tweaks that will make it safer and more convenient for people to cross the street. It sounds basic, but it really will make a big difference to people’s experience walking around Seattle. 

Last, but definitely not least, we are advocating for funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator position for the Seattle School District. Right now ⅓ of the school crossing guard jobs are vacant and few schools have “walking school bus” programs. This position was recommended by the School Traffic Safety Committee, and we believe it will help bring new energy to these programs and make it safer for kids to walk to school across the city. It’s another small thing that we believe will have a big impact.  

 

Susan: Wow, that’s a lot!

Gordon: Hah, yeah, there’s a reason why we’re calling it the nation’s best transportation package! There is also a whole section of improvements for transit — bus lanes and spot improvements to make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient.

 

Susan: Who will this benefit?

Clara: Well, everyone. For people who are already walking, biking and taking transit, which is disproportionately people of color and low-income folks, this will make getting around Seattle vastly safer, more comfortable, and more efficient. For folks who don’t currently walk, bike, and take transit very much it will give them more options to get around. 

 

Susan: So how will it impact people in their daily lives?

Gordon: Great question. Each piece of the package that is passed will have a really positive impact. For instance, getting a better sidewalk repair program will mean fewer people trip and fall and injure themselves. People in South Beacon Hill will have a trail that opens up a new healthy and affordable transportation option that they haven’t had access to before. People walking along Greenwood Ave in north Seattle will no longer have to squeeze between dumpsters and fast moving traffic to catch the bus. People walking home from work won’t have to wait so long for the walk light and will be able to get to their families more quickly. And I could go on. This will make such a big difference, on so many fronts, it’s impossible to list them all! 

 

Susan: What kind of impact will this have on affordability and stabilizing communities? 

Gordon: We have to make sure that anything we’re building has adequate community engagement so that improvements can reflect the needs of the people who live there — one great example is the Georgetown to South Park Trail, which has incredible community support and input, right from the beginning of the process. And while we know providing affordable transportation options is important [Editor’s note: transportation is the second largest household cost after housing], we also need to see an increase in affordable housing and middle class housing construction so that everyone can benefit and stay as our city grows and evolves. 

 

Susan: Where did these ideas come from?

Clara: We’ve been working on these issues for years, we’re just now wrapping them together into an all-inclusive package. For instance, our campaign to get a better signals policy for Seattle has been years in the making — first identified by neighbors frustrated by specific traffic signals in their communities, who then led numerous walks with community members and elected officials, published articles, and now we’ve gained a lot of attention and are making moves. 

 

Susan: Who is supporting the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara: We’ve been doing a lot of the behind the scenes work to get it ready and have been collaborating with our allies in the MASS Coalition which is made up of organizations focused on the environment, transportation, and disability rights. 

Gordon: And, some components of the package have additional supporters as well. For instance the piece calling on the city to create a better sidewalk maintenance program has support from AARP and Sound Generations, who are helping collect personal stories about why it’s so important for everyone, but especially older adults, to have safe and accessible sidewalks. 

 

Susan: What has the reception been like at City Hall and at SDOT?

Clara: It’s been very positive so far — these are known issues and ones that people in all parts of our local government would like to try and fix. 

Gordon: Yeah, as often is the case, this is about making the “right thing to do” the “easy thing to do.” Overcoming the inertia of the status quo is tough. That’s why we’ve been laying the groundwork by doing the background research and policy development needed to make it as easy as possible for our elected leaders to pick up the baton and get these ideas over the finish line.  

 

Susan: What is your biggest worry about passing these pieces of legislation?

Clara: The timing. We are trying to pass a huge amount of legislation before the end of the year, and in September the city budget discussions start taking up all of the City Council’s time, pretty much until December. So, we need everyone to speak up now and let city council know that this is a high priority and they need to get this done [Editor’s note: Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]. 

 

Susan: What gives you hope for this effort? 

Clara: Our amazing volunteers. 

Gordon: Absolutely, and we also couldn’t do it without our allies, and I also want to give a shout out to Clara who has been doing an incredible amount of the behind-the-scenes organizing around the policy development. 

 

Susan: Last question, what should people do if they have more questions or want to get involved?

Clara: People can check out the policy brief, which has one-pagers for each piece of legislation [click here], or they can email me [Clara@seattlegreenways.org] to get more involved. And don’t forget to send a message to the Mayor and City Council to urge their support! [Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]

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